Saturday, December 25, 2010

First Beer Of Christmas

The 12 Beers of Christmas is a little tradition I started last year in which I treated myself to 12 different beers, one each day. It celebrates the incredible taste and variety that can be found in beers around the world and just a few klicks from my doorstep.

Me, I'm an Ale fan, so here we go ...

On the first beer of Christmas I shared a fresh pint with my brother. Technically it was 1 pint 9 oz, which made it easier to share. :D  The lucky brew was Black Sheep Ale, brewed and bottled in the English style by the Black Sheep Brewery in Masham, Yorkshire England.

This tasty beer is a lovely English bitter with a golden hue and a light and crisp taste. It has a refreshing hoppy flavor that paints the inside of your mouth and finishes dry. Bubbly and thirst quenching. At only 4.4% ABV this is a session beer that you could enjoy more than one of at a sitting.

One thing that I appreciate is right on the label: Serve Cool. Note that it did not say Cold.  Serving it at "cellar temperature" rather than ice cold refrigerator temperature allows its true aroma and flavor to come out.
We paired it with a buttery triple creme cheese and some rosemary olive oil bread. The rosemary complimented the English hops superbly and made the taste bloom in our mouths.  Bread, cheese, beer. It's meals like these that make you feel the life of an English peasant might not be so bad after all.

The official write up from Black Sheep:


Masses of hops, orange-fruit and roast coffee maltiness


Black Sheep Ale is a full flavoured, premium bitter with a rich fruity aroma. Handfuls of choice Golding hops give it a bittersweet, roast coffee maltiness followed by Black Sheep’s characteristic long, dry and bitter finish.


We use superior quality Maris Otter malted barley which delivers a better tasting and more consistent beer. This brew contains more Crystal Malt which gives Black Sheep Ale its rich flavour and darker colouring.
We use a mix of whole hops including Challenger and Progress varieties with an emphasis on Goldings which gives the beer its fruity nose.

The Story Behind the Artwork

The intention was to create something radically different from the traditional beer bottle label. Initially inspired by the practice of “hot branding” sheep flocks, the design aimed to create a distinctive and eye-catching “hot branded” label.
Despite being updated over the years, the label remains true to its original design and is one of the most recognised beer labels on the market today - a fact that's reflected by Black Sheep Ale's regular position in the top ten best-selling bottles beers in the UK.

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